Learn how to melt chocolate using the seeding method for all of your chocolate candy and decorations. White, milk & dark chocolate temperature guidelines.
Chocolate is an exciting ingredient that engages all of your senses with its silky texture, enticing aroma, and delicious flavors. If you would like to know how to melt chocolate for candy making or fancy decorations, then it’s important to know the proper techniques.
Learning these will ensure the final product is shiny and has the right texture. There are many types of chocolate to choose from such as white, milk and dark. It’s important to know the temperature ranges for tempering chocolate so you can create beautiful, glossy and delicious candies. Ready!? Let’s get started!
Tempering chocolate is a controlled process of melting, cooling and reheating chocolates within a set temperature range. When chocolate is melted to specific temperatures, the fat molecules, and solid crystals become unchained and unstable.
Tempering helps to stabilize the fat and makes it consistent throughout the chocolate mixture. Following the temperature guidelines for each type of chocolate will make candies that are high sheen and snap when you break off a piece.
What happens to chocolate that is not tempered? It becomes crumbly, has gray streaks and does not snap, definitely not what you want!
Temperature Ranges for Melting Chocolate*:
*These guidelines are based on couverture chocolate recommendations. Use the ingredient manufacturer guidelines if the chocolate is a different type.
There are three ways to temper chocolate; seeding, tabling and microwave oven. I use the seeding method at home because it’s simple and gives me the most control.
Chocolate Seeding Method Steps:
- Place 2/3 of the chopped or pistoles couverture chocolate to be tempered in a dry bowl (heatproof glass, aluminum or unlined copper).
- Melt the chocolate over barely simmering water (less than 140°F) with the water not touching the bottom of the bowl containing the chocolate.
- When chocolate is melted to 118°F (for dark chocolate) or 115°F (for milk or white chocolate), remove from the heat. Add the rest of the 1/3 chocolate remaining to the bowl and stir using a rubber spatula until the lumps are dissolved; this is called, “seeding”.
- Check the temperature of the chocolate with your instant-read thermometer . When working with the chocolate, the temperature must stay below 90°F (for dark chocolate) or 87°F (for milk or white chocolate). Repeat the reheating and tempering process to restore the chocolates fluidity if needed.
Guidelines to remember for Melting Chocolate:
- The ideal temperature of the room when working with chocolate is between 68 to 72°F (20 and 22°), and low humidity.
- When cooling and hardening your melted chocolate work, 65°F room is recommended. You can refrigerate your chocolate to harden, but it will make the chocolate softer and less crisp, although it may be needed on those hot days.
- Use high-quality couverture chocolate if possible, like Valrhona . It contains at least 32% cocoa butter, giving a high fluidity and glossy appearance.
- The chocolate should be chopped into small uniform pieces so it melts evenly or you can use pistoles.
- If using a double boiler, the water should not exceed 140°F. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl containing the chocolate. The chocolate should be carefully watched and stirred to prevent overheating. An instant-read thermometer is a must when melting chocolate.
- To prevent loss of flavor, do not heat chocolate over 120°F! Remove chocolate from the heat source when it reaches 115°F and continue stirring to distribute the cocoa butter evenly.
- White and milk chocolate should be frequently stirred while melting because they contain milk solids that lump if left unmixed.
- Chocolate and water are enemies! Steam or liquid water should not come in contact with chocolate. Water causes the chocolate to “seize” and become lumpy.
- Tempering is only needed for chocolate candies, molded chocolates or chocolate decorations. No need to temper mousses, creams, ganache or baking; just simply melt and go!
- Store chocolate at 56-60°F. If you need to refrigerate your chocolate, make sure it is wrapped tightly or in an airtight container to prevent moisture contact.
(Source: On Baking, a Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals- Chocolate and Decorative Work)